Most people's understanding of wind turbines, as those gathering signatures for the petition realized, is that of "closed" systems promoted decades ago. You had wind or sun; it collected the energy and stored it in batteries in your basement to be used as needed. Industrial wind turbines are, comparatively speaking, an "open" system whereby the energy is distributed immediately. This sounds wonderful except for one significant issue.
The industrial wind turbine process is intermittent.
Today Vermont is once again facing a significant threat to its environment and one which, ironically, was specifically dismissed as essentially unimaginable 40 years ago in the commission's report. In section 3 of their recommendations, the commission states: "Generating plants for electrical energy do not differ appreciably from other manufacturing installations." They couldn't imagine back then wind turbines as a generator of electrical power, scattered about our ridgelines and mountains, standing over 400 feet tall and consuming hundreds, if not thousands, of acres.
Wind turbines should not be portrayed as the most reliable, cleanest and cheapest source of energy. The changes to our scenic landscape will not be minimal. Why do we have to watch the value of our property decrease and our beautiful ridgeline be destroyed? A few business people with a profit motive should not rush through an approval process that sacrifices the natural beauty of Vermont for decades or forever.
A lot of publicity about wind farms has been reported lately but there has been a notable lack of publicity about continuing failures at Searsburg, as well as other areas throughout the country. ...It should be noted that their touted life expectancy is speculative and not substantiated since so very few [turbines] have been operating for even 10 years.
We live in a place of few cash crops. One is the scenery that drives our tourism. The other thing we have is a few wild places where you can plant a foot, pivot like a hoop-star, and gaze at a landscape uncluttered by anything but the Milky Way. The value on that? Incalculable. Again, tourism, and the stuff of the soul. A whole bunch of far-seeing people walked both sides of the aisle to preserve the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Tract for your grandchildren and mine, for all time, for jobs, recreational access, and the sheer value of the landscape itself. Good thing we did - just look all around at everything else.
It's interesting to learn that Burlington has agreed to buy more than half of the power that the Sheffield wind farm, if and when it is built, produces. Another way to look at it is that, since the profit in a wind farm derives entirely from the public subsidies that will fill the pockets of the owners, the rest of us will be subsidizing with our tax dollars the citizens of Burlington. Talk about ironies. Burlington and Chittenden County are frequently and derisively referred to as "The Socialistic Republic of Vermont," Now it is coming true. Our tax dollars will heat and light them.
The Green Mountain National Forest released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Deerfield Wind Project in September and we will accept public comment until Friday. ...I look forward to more feedback on our DEIS. As the final information and opinions flow in, I know this is an important decision and it will weigh heavily on my mind.
In January 2007, Deerfield Wind and Iberdrola Renewables (formerly PPM Energy, a subsidiary of the Spanish energy company Iberdrola) applied for a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board in order to construct a 34 megawatt (MW) wind turbine project in the Green Mountain National Forest in Readsboro and Searsburg. ...Wilmington voted at a town meeting in December 2007 to oppose the project based on concerns about wildlife habitat, aesthetics and lack of public benefit including the areas of property values and the impact on tourism.
Now that Ms. Symington says she wants 20 percent of Vermont's electricity in 10 years from windmills, here's how to bring that dream to fruition.
How many miles of once scenic ridgelines will be dominated by towering industrial wind turbines replacing nuclear power? How will they be connected to the power transmission grid? What will be the visible, audible and environmental impacts of spinning blades and mountainside access roads and powerlines? Where will we get electricity when the wind doesn't blow, or blows so hard that turbines have to be stopped? ...Proponents of "clean energy" alternatives are pitching them against nuclear power instead of detailing their feasibilities, risks and impacts. Vermonters deserve much better information as we debate, plan and implement our energy future.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gaye Symington set up the debate with her simple proposal to drive the use of wind power in Vermont from 0.2 percent to 20 percent in 10 years. A far-fetched goal that's just too simple to realize?
The response was swift from David O'Brien, the state Public Service commissioner. He used one word to define Symington's idea: "irresponsible."
Symington's suggestion may in fact be "irresponsible." Yet we're all adult enough to probe probabilities ...
Because of the above investigation and because we believe the Sheffield project will have a strong negative impact on tourism, property values and housing starts, economics, and our environment, many of us supported a town plan revision that would exclude large-scale industrial wind development on Barton's ridge lines. Our revision, however, does encourage small-scale wind turbines as well as other forms of renewable energy such as hydro, biomass, solar, and energy conservation.
While the town plan cannot regulate energy producing facilities since the Vermont State Public Service Board issues commercial wind turbine permits, the Public Service Board will look at our town plan and try to honor its goals.
The statement that the project "is expected to begin moving forward soon" is incorrect, unless the reporter knows something I do not.
The Public Service Board's decision is pending this fall but a number of interveners are currently fighting the project before the PSB, including Save Vermont Ridgelines.
Should this project be approved, one of the largest bear habitats in Vermont will be destroyed. As this is the first wind project proposed on national forest land, it will pave the way for similar projects in other national forests, such as those currently proposed in Virginia, West Virginia, and Michigan.
While the proposed turbines are located in Searsburg and Readsboro, their impact on neighboring Wilmington would be substantial, particularly for residents living in the viewshed of the ridgeline.
Should we not be compensated as well? What about the potential decline in the value of our real estate? ...Perhaps more important, aside from the monetary value, what about the decreased enjoyment of our property because of the turbines?
This installation will require high-intensity aircraft beacons to be located on top of each of the towers. The turbines would each be twice as tall as the existing turbines, 110 feet taller than the Bennington Monument, and be visible from the Woodford State Park all the way through Searsburg, Wilmington and into Marlboro. A large number of people who choose to live in these towns because of the remoteness will have their enjoyment of the area spoiled by having this industrial generating station placed along the ridgeline.
Over 60 properties nearest to the turbines will be subject to noise levels exceeding that recommended as fit for human habitation by the World Health Organization. Is this how we want to preserve that National Forest for future generations - by making it unfit for humans to be in it? ...For the sake of the affected people and the future of the forest, let's hope the permit is not granted.
Here at home, the Vermont Supreme Court heard arguments about the only new wind project in Vermont with permits from the Public Service Board. The company, recently renamed FirstWind, won permission to erect 16 turbines on a ridgeline in Sheffield. The permit was appealed by local opponents organized as Ridge Protectors. As far as I can tell from an internet search, only the Barton Chronicle covered the session. ...The Chronicle story quotes Justice Reiber as asking the attorneys, "How could they measure economic benefit without the contracts?" Of course it takes two to tango, so who knows whether it's First Wind or the Vermont utilities that are reluctant to reach a power-sale deal.
No telling when the Supreme Court will decide the appeal, but First Wind said recently it doesn't expect to start putting up the turbines (assuming the permit stands) this year.
The [New England] region's power system has had a long history of dependability, but electricity costs have been an issue for businesses and residents for decades. As the region plans ahead, New England's policymakers face a series of decisions that will have an abiding impact on our energy future. ...Economic, reliability and environmental goals are not always perfectly aligned when it comes to electricity generation and transmission. Whatever path policymakers choose to take will require trade-offs. How New England officials balance these sometimes conflicting goals will demonstrate our priorities, impact the regional economy and determine which objectives we can realistically achieve.
I read last week's article "Forest Service buys Handle Road parcel" with trepidation. It is important to realize that the United States Forest Service no longer protects forest lands, even national forests, from development. Their 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement for Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest identifies 37 sites, for a total of 19,700 acres, as "potentially both viable and suitable" for wind power development.
As quoted in their report on Page 3-298 ...